Parental Control

I really wanted freedom. With an upcoming license test and fifteen miles between home and everything on my weekend “wish I was doing” list, I was ready to go to great lengths to cover that distance. My mom let slip a possibility of another vehicle entering the family, suggesting that if I “played my cards right,” I would soon have the means to travel without incessant bargaining with siblings or careful carpooling. With desperation, I decided to do just that.

Week 1: my objective was simply to avoid arguing with my parents. Over the past seven days, it’s morphed into simply keeping them happy with me, which turns out is much farther outside of my conscious control than I had anticipated. I’ve discovered that I don’t argue with them as much as I had thought. My mom is more easily disturbed by the things I don’t do rather than the things I do. It’s not exactly groundbreaking news, but my mom really does not like it when I neglect to run the dishwasher or forget to feed the dogs. As it turns out, my parents actually prefer when I do things the first time they ask. I always thought they might find they remembered my compliance better if they had to ask more than once.

Week 2: My primary method of getting a point across used to be sarcasm. There is nothing like a fresh batch of irony to wake the senses. Tossing that aside is remarkably dull. It’s so difficult to avoid responding to “you’re driving way too fast” with “gee, I wonder who I get that from?” since my dad is a speedy maniac.

Week 3: It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what didn’t work—I said bless you when they sneezed, I lowered my voice when contradicting them—but I found myself hating this entire endeavor. Last weekend, I made cookies without any parental help and I’ve bought myself frozen yogurt several times—two family-friendly activities I completed myself. My parents simply weren’t interested.

I didn’t tell my parents I was going to make an effort at coexistence, but my dad clearly meant to undermine my spectacularly dismal attempts when he announced he was buying a new car (which will result in a 1:1 car to driver ratio), and most incredibly, both my parents spontaneously decided that it was only fair that half of the trust fund money my sister had acquired access to on her recent birthday should go to me for my future college costs. It’s just outrageous.

There was no improvement in my quality of life. On the contrary, I found myself spitting sarcastic comments in the darkness before sleep and at the darkest of times I would close my eyes and mutter quietly, “do it for the Times.”

My parents made no comment on my month-long conflict hiatus. When questioned, my mom admitted no difference in my quality as a child. The decision to be a peaceful child was the worst I ever made. I now sleep well knowing that I am already my best self.